FIRST READING (It was impossible for Jesus to be held by death.)
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (2:14, 22-33)
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words. You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him fromthe throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him: I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to thenetherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.
“My brothers, one can confidently say to you aboutthe patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day. But since he was aprophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him thathe would set one of his descendants upon his throne, heforesaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, thatneither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did hisflesh see corruption. God raised this Jesus; of this we areall witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”—The Word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM (16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11)
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life. (Ps 16:11a)
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; I say to the Lord, “My Lord are you.” O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot. (R)
I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night myheart exhorts me. I set the Lord ever before me; with himat my right hand I shall not be disturbed. (R)
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices; my body, too, abides in confidence; because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption. (R)
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in yourpresence, the delights at your right hand forever. (R)
SECOND READING (You were saved with the precious Blood of Christ, as with that of a spotless, unblemished lamb.)
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Peter (1:17-21)
Beloved: If you invoke as Father him who judgesimpartially according to each one’s works, conductyourselves with reverence during the time of yoursojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from yourfutile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not withperishable things like silver or gold but with the preciousblood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.
He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through himbelieve in God who raised him from the dead and gavehim glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. —TheWord of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (Cf. Lk 24:32)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts
burn while you speak to us. (R)
GOSPEL (They recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread.)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (24:13-35)
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles fromJerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazorean, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village towhich they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread. — The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
“Don’t you remember me?”
There are fortunate people who have a tremendous talent in remembering names and faces. No matter where they are or under whatever circumstances, when they see a certain face, they can remember the person’s name and other details. I confess that it is a talent I don’t share. In my first years as a missionary in Tanzania, people felt that once you had been introduced, you would be remembered. People who saw me on the street, or in the market or in an outstation would shout out a greeting “Hello Father Joseph!” and I was expected to reply using their name – a name I more often than not, could not recall.
Or what of the experience many of us have had that we walk along a street or highway and come across a distinctive turn in the road or a landscape and we suddenly feel, “I’ve been here before!” And suddenly we are filled with a wave of memories.
There is a phrase we use too at times, where we dig deep into our memory to seek something and we will say, “Yes, I’ll know it when I see it!”
As we grow older, this agility of memory can sometimes fail us, when we cannot recognize someone or something we should recall. Maybe the original impressions we had were not strong enough for us to easily recall. Or perhaps the people or places have changed so much that it’s less a question of recognizing them and more like being introduced to them anew – as often happens when attending school reunions. These situations are examples of today’s Gospel and the story of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Don’t you remember me?
When we hear these post-Resurrection narratives or the stories of the life and miracles of Jesus, we wonder why so many people at that time did not see him as the Messiah that they long awaited? Surely his teachings, his words stirred their hearts just as they stir our hearts today. Today’s gospel is a narrative parable of post-resurrection faith for Luke’s pilgrim community and for the Church through history. This story is briefly mentioned also in Mark 16: 12-13.
“Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened.” It is an animated conversation about their shattered hopes. Luke gives us the name of one, Cleopas, and the other, although not named, is now identified by some biblical scholars as “Mary, the wife of Cl(e)opas” who St. John places at the foot of the cross (John 19:25). This is considered a veiled reference to the early Christian practice of missionary COUPLES such as Priscilla and Aquila. And so here the Risen Lord seems to appear to a married couple, a man and a woman.
Upset as they both are, Cleopas and the other disciple start talking quickly as they re-tell of their hopes and the effect of Jesus in their lives. They knew and loved Jesus. He was a messianic prophet like Moses, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. They retell a common story of that time of the warrior God who delivered the people out of Egypt and destroyed the Egyptians. This was the kind of Messiah they hoped for.
But now the stranger who is accompanying them now tells a new and different story. He begins, “Was it not necessary [edei] that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, the Risen Lord interpreted to them references of Scripture that referred to him. He shows them how messianic suffering should be understood. Yet still… they did not recognize him… until their eyes opened with the gesture of the breaking of the bread.
How could they not “see” Him? How could they not recognize Him? They didn’t. Was it a trick of late afternoon sunshine that blinded their eyes? It was only when the Lord “took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them” that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. And yet, at that very moment of recognition he disappeared from their sight.
The opening of the Scriptures by the Risen Lord is similar to the preaching of St. Peter in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Think of it… if even Peter and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus – all who had known and followed Jesus – found it difficult to understand the meaning of Jesus’ life and death, how then can we hope to do so? It’s as if the Lord is asking each of us, “Don’t you remember me?”
On the road to Emmaus, while Jesus tries to “connect the dots” they did not recognize him… until their eyes opened with the gesture of the breaking of the bread. It was a divine intervention that helped them to see. Although these two disciples had known and followed Jesus – they found it difficult to understand the meaning of Jesus’ life and death. How much more difficult for us? It’s as if the Lord is asking each of us, “Don’t you remember me?”
Arriving at evening at their destination at Emmaus, the two disciples begin a new journey – a spiritual and emotional one. They begin to see what they misunderstood, what they failed to see clearly, and now they were able to “open their eyes” to see the truth. And in the breaking of the bread they are confronted with the reality of Christ, the Risen Lord.
These two disciples were not in the upper room with the apostles and other disciples, they were not in a garden near the tomb, they were not even in Jerusalem. They were on an ordinary road, traveling to a small village – a town called Emmaus that cannot really be found anymore.
The Gospel teaches us that the Risen Christ can join us wherever we are in our own life’s journey. The “where” of the Emmaus story is a nameless road… really… any road, every road where we are, any point on a road or journey as a child, a teenager, a young adult, a parent, a senior citizen. It is the road the begins when a couple wed; it is the road that opens with the birth of a new child. It is a road anywhere – in the world of school, of work, whatever our occupation.
It is a road where we are personally – in times of doubt and worry, in grief, in joy, in confusion or consternation, in worry or distress. It is the journey we all find ourselves now surrounded by a pandemic. The road on which these two disciples traveled is OUR ROAD now, and Christ is with us as well.
The way of Cleopas and Mary – this husband and wife – coming to know Jesus was in “the breaking of the bread” – the earliest name for the Mass. Reflecting on the Scriptures and participation in the Breaking of the Bread is what we are doing at this very moment – this is the Mass; this is where we encounter the Risen Lord each week. At this table of the Lord, we each bring our joys, sorrows, triumphs and challenges, questions, doubts and pain to the Risen Lord.
Our Gospel today is about the continuing journey we all have as members of the Church. We are called to reflect on the Scriptures and experience the Lord through the Bread of Life, and like this couple, who, despite the late hour, rushed back to Jerusalem to tell others what had taken place on the journey.
No journey made in the company of the Risen Lord can ever possibly be a failure, even if we end up far from where we expected to be when we set out. As long as we end up where HE calls us to be, the journey is successful, the journey is worthwhile. All we need to do is open our eyes and recognize him! He beckons us, “Don’t you remember me?”
Celebrant: The wisdom of the Scriptures reveals God’s plan for us. As we journey with Christ, let us pray that his path of life may become clearer each day.
READER: For the pastors of the Catholic Church, that they may continue to nourish us with God’s WORD from the scriptures, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For the nations of our world, that the good news of Christ the risen Lord may bring consolation, justice, and hope to all at this time, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For those suffering in the darkness of sickness, disease and despair, that the scriptures may be explained to them as light and truth, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For this parish community only able to gather virtually at this time, that each one may recognize the real presence of the risen Lord in the eucharistic “breaking of the bread,” (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For the intentions we carry in our hearts, and for all those who have asked for our prayers and who we remember now in silence. (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
CELEBRANT: God, our Father, our hearts burn within us as we listen to your only-begotten Son; accept the prayers of pilgrims on his path of life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. (all) AMEN.